/ Cycling

Mark Cavendish opens Giro d'Italia with stage win

Updated: Saturday, 04 May 2013 21:08 | Comments

Mark Cavendish: 'So I'm really happy how it went, as the guys rode all day on the front'
Mark Cavendish: 'So I'm really happy how it went, as the guys rode all day on the front'

Mark Cavendish thanked his Omega Pharma Quick-Step team for getting him over the line first as the Giro d'Italia began today.

The sprinter had sat in eighth as the riders approached the final stretch of the 130 kilometre route, before a crash sent several riders to ground.

Amid the carnage, Cavendish was able to nip through and pip Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) to the line.

The stage win, and subsequent 12 bonus seconds, allowed Cavendish to take the pink jersey from defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp).

"It's not easy to sprint for every corner, brake, accelerate. It's not easy and the team did that all day before dropping me off at the end"

The Manxman had little support from his team-mates as he crossed the line, but thanked them for their toils earlier in the day.

"Just because it's not a big line in the last kilometre doesn't mean that the team hasn't done everything to get me there," he said.

Gert Steegmans had stayed with Cavendish but when he suffered mechanical problems, the latter was on his own.

"He did an incredible job to lead me up in the last kilometres, got on the right wheel and then unfortunately had a mechanical problem," Cavendish said of his team-mate.

"Sure I had to close a gap in the last kilometre but had he not had a complication, you would have seen him lead me to the front and then in the final. So I'm really happy how it went, as the guys rode all day on the front.

"It's not easy to sit on the front when you've got guys surging and there's a sprint for every corner. It's like a series of efforts.

"It's not easy to sprint for every corner, brake, accelerate. It's not easy and the team did that all day before dropping me off at the end. I'm lucky I've got the speed to be able to come back like that in the final. I'm really happy today."

The stage got under way in hot temperatures, with the riders having to complete four laps on the Posillipo circuit before heading out of Naples and back again on a long loop.

It was Cameron Wurf who did most of the early running for Cannondale, joining a breakaway from the peleton 30 kilometres into the race before heading out on his own.

At one stage the Australian was over two minutes ahead of the chasing pack but was eventually sucked back into the peleton with just under 20 kilometres remaining.

Omega Pharma, Lampre Merida and Team Sky then began to bunch at the front of the peleton in the hope of setting up their sprinters as the finish line approached.

Orica GreenEdge also got themselves in the mix with Matt Goss their hope of victory, and the Australian was tussling with Cavendish in the middle of the peleton as the riders approached the final few kilometres, with Viviani in pole position at that point.

However, the crash left only a handful of riders in the hunt and as Goss faded it was Cavendish who came from behind to snatch the win by a wheel.

It was the 11th stage win of Cavendish's career in the Giro.

Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins was some way off the frontrunners, although he is expected to fare better in tomorrow's time trial.

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